Don’t Forget the Quitclaim

Your client’s final divorce decree does not completely close the books on the disposition of his or her real property. To finalize the sale or transfer of property, you must follow through with an official recording of legal ownership by filing a Quitclaim Deed. Neglecting this final step can cause significant problems for your client down the road.

Here’s an example:

During a recent divorce settlement, Husband was awarded the dissolved couple’s rental property. After a few years of disuse, Husband chose to sell. He listed the property, attracted a buyer, and waited for twenty days in escrow—only for the title company to discover that his ex-wife’s name was still present on the title.

Knowing he was awarded the property in the divorce, Husband assumed this a non-issue and confidently presented the final divorce decree proving—he believed—his sole claim to the home.

The title company refused the document.

Asking instead for a Quitclaim Deed, the title company halted the transaction.

Through a private detective, Husband finally located his bitterly estranged ex-wife, to whom he hadn’t spoken since the divorce. After explaining his predicament, the ex-wife demanded a payment of $100,000 to sign the quitclaim document, leaving Husband in a precarious financial position and putting the sale of the property at risk.

Regardless of the direction this story took, and where it ultimately ended, Husband found himself the victim in a completely avoidable scenario. In fact, Husband’s situation could have gone badly in several ways: what if his ex-wife couldn’t be found? What if she was discovered deceased? What if she had refused to sign the document entirely, regardless of Husband’s willingness to pay her exorbitant extortion fee?

This issue—and others like it—can be avoided by simply filing a quitclaim deed before closing out the divorce case, legally releasing an ex-spouse’s claim to the awarded property.

Contact Shannon for more advice, or click the button below to request title documents and fair market values for your cases.

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